Animal cruelty bill to be fast-tracked?

January 31st, 2010 at 10:39 am by David Farrar

The SST report:

TOUGHER PENALTIES against those who harm animals look certain to be fast-tracked after Prime Minister John Key last night said his government would consider the controversial issue at Tuesday’s caucus meeting.

A spokesman for Key said: “The prime minister has been appalled by the recent animal cruelty cases.”

Key’s intervention means the government is likely to adopt National MP ’ private member’s bill, which proposes increasing the maximum jail term for animal cruelty from three years to five. If the government fails to act, Bridges’ bill could be debated in parliament only if it is drawn, lottery-style, from a ballot.

Key’s spokesman indicated the government would move quickly. “The government supports ensuring we have appropriate measures to deal with these issues. The Simon Bridges member’s bill will be considered for adoption as a government bill at an upcoming caucus.”

Another option would be for Simon to seek leave of the House for its introduction, without going through the ballot. It may well be possible no MP would object, considering the recent court cases.

Labour leader Phil Goff yesterday said the opposition would support Bridges’ bill to the committee stage, where it can be debated, and amended if necessary.


Greens co-leader Metiria Turei had signed the Paw Justice petition and is likely to support Bridges’ private member’s bill, and Act leader Rodney Hide supported tougher penalties because “the next step after cruelty to animals was cruelty to humans”.

Also good. That indicates there may be a reasonable chance of getting leave to introduce it straight away.

31 Responses to “Animal cruelty bill to be fast-tracked?”

  1. reid (21,427 comments) says:

    Key’s starting to worry me with his kneejerk populist responses. Anytime there’s a hot media issue he picks it up and takes the lead but he doesn’t seem to do much thinking about cause and effect. It keeps him high in the polls but it’s not good policy. Perhaps it’s an understandable result of his professional background with respect to reading the market, making quick decisions and moving on, but this approach is not good when the issue requires deeper thought.

    This is a good example. Animal cruelty is a symptom not a cause, of a serious and growing malaise within society that’s been developing for decades. The people who commit these acts are showing increasing disregard of any sense of limitation whatsoever. Their inner conscience and sense of respect and love for other living things that most of us have in great abundance, is not there at all. There are now tens of thousands of people in this country with this condition. The question is: why?

    Even if the idiot MSM and the even more idiotic superficial thinkers out there cheer and clap at Key’s initiative, that doesn’t mean the problem is being addressed. It’s a politician’s job to think carefully and deeply about these things. That’s what we pay them to do. They are given our money so they can devote their entire working life to these issues while the rest of us earn a crust.

    If Key was giving priority also to a wide range of measures all of which were aimed at addressing the deeper cause, I’d be clapping too. But he isn’t. He hasn’t even indicated that he is aware they exist. That’s why I’m worried.

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  2. barry (1,233 comments) says:

    Agree with reid. Key and gang are doing exactly what got Labour kicked out. Reacting to hot topics and theyll get the same tag – nanny state.
    Last week it “lets ban codiene”
    this week its “lets ban cruelty to animals”

    Both sort of “good feel” marketing, but like all this it for labour – it will backfire – and piss of people like me who voted for national to STOP this sort of crap.

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  3. andrei (4,510 comments) says:

    It’ll get him good press but not make one whit of difference to the people who lack the empathy to see that what they are doing is hideously wrong – and they will continue to do it anyway.


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  4. Fletch (9,017 comments) says:

    There needs to be a law change against cruelty to babies – specifically the ones being killed in their own mothers’ wombs and with the aid of the state.

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  5. Manolo (22,043 comments) says:

    Didn’t Labour’s Minister Mahuta say dog chipping legislation would put and end to dog attacks? Now the National Party jumps at the opportunity of playing the populist card in dealing with animal cruelty.

    What about fast-tracking legislation on more substantial matters? No, according to Key’s shallow government welfare and tax reforms can wait.

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  6. Viking2 (14,372 comments) says:

    No doubt there will be more unintended consequences for all of us.
    Another 50 pages of bullshit that won’t change anything. This stuff is about ones personal attitudes and behaviors and making laws won’t change any of those.

    another fail for the National party.
    They are more like the Green/Labourites as each day goes by.

    Now all you mindless hand wringers can speak up and call me nasty names. Frankly I don’t care about that.
    Can one put a complaint to the Commerce Commission or Advertising Standards or someone about the false advertising engaged in by the National Party and “Hone” John Key before the last election?
    Oh that’s right he’s trader and the price changes everyday, sometimes within the day. AHHHHH!!!

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  7. Johnboy (20,828 comments) says:

    What about a law change to avoid cruelty to murderous crims. Why do we torture them with long years spent confined in tiny prison cells with the constant fear of a sharpened object being forcefully inserted into them so another crim can gain notoriety.

    A quick merciful state administered bullet behind the ear will end all that lifetime of fear and uncertainty.

    A law change that a caring populist PM like Johnnyboy should really be supporting and think of the money it will save, a win-win situation as a previous PM used to say a lot.

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  8. kowtow (13,217 comments) says:

    Nothing wrong with fast tracking the Bill.

    I do agree with with Reid tho that we’re dealing with symptoms here. It’s the same with the worry about drinking and smoking and drugs and debt and poor parenting and low achievement in schools and being on top of all the OECD negatives and on the bottom of all the OECD positives. Symptoms of a failing society.

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  9. Minnie (90 comments) says:

    I thought Goff’s comments were more interesting than the details of any proposed legislation. “I’m the owner of two dogs and have had pets all my life.” He owns motorbikes too.

    Seems like the Labour caucus have had some advice to try to be really ordinary, just like all the ordinary people.

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  10. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    National re all over the place on this one. Rodney Hide has stated that he wants to re-introduce the concept of “Personal Freedom’ when it comes to dog ownership, when the Dog Control Act gets reviewed next year- now the PM wants to take it away. You can’t have it both ways. If you are going to prosecute more under the Animal Welfare Act, by definition you are restricting peoples activities.

    Talk is cheap. I’ll believe they are serious when MAF and Local Government get more powers to prosecute AND gets more resources to do something about it.

    Another example of the reverse iceberg- All tip and no content.

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  11. Anna Sewell (42 comments) says:

    There needs to be a law change against cruelty to babies – specifically the ones being killed in their own mothers’ wombs and with the aid of the state.

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  12. Inventory2 (12,388 comments) says:

    Speaking personally, the fact that a judge last week had only a three year sentence at his disposal is disturbing. David Hamuera Snook was given around 77% of the maximum sentence (2 years and 4 months) for ripping the head of a kitten in front of his partner and children. Not only was it an act of animal cruelty; it was a shocking episode of domestic abuse – of the emotional and psychological variety. What might Snook have done when he was angry, and there wasn’t a kitten to dismember? Might his partner and children have borne the brunt of the anger?

    Society, not just animals needs to be protected from the likes of David Hamuera Snook and Te Ahu Aaron Mackelow, the bastard that fed kittens to his dog and filmed the results. If that requires longer jail sentences, so be it. I wholly support Bridges bringing this Bill forward, and if the government adopts it ensuring its passage, I will be very pleased.

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  13. Fletch (9,017 comments) says:

    Anna, grow up. If Jesus is doing anything in that picture he is mourning the loss of innocent children.

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  14. Anna Sewell (42 comments) says:

    Anna, you’re an idiot.

    Edit: Oh, I see you’ve changed your post. In which case I shall respond:

    Anna, grow up. If Jesus is doing anything in that picture he is mourning the loss of innocent children.

    Actually, he’s probably mourning the death of George Tiller.

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  15. Fletch (9,017 comments) says:

    Anna, lets zoom out of your picture a bit shall we? (and flip it)

    Your ‘face plant’ turns into something a bit more serious.
    As serious as Jesus takes the murder of children.

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  16. Anna Sewell (42 comments) says:

    So how about we put in a bit more perspective then Fletch?

    A lot of religious concerns have nothing to do with suffering or its alleviation, despite a genuine intent to be. Christians press concerns that inflict unnecessary and appalling suffering on humanity. A quote from Sam Harris’ book Letter to a Christian Nation: “The Church expends more ‘moral’ energy opposing abortion than fighting genocide. Or they’re more concerned about preventing condom usage in Africa rather than preventing the millions of deaths from AIDS there every year”.

    Stem-cell research is one of the most promising developments in the last century of medicine, for the simple reason that embryonic stem cells can become any tissue in the human body. This research is essential for our understanding of cancer, along with the a wide variety of developmental disorders.

    Given these facts, it is incredulous to think that anyone would be against this scientific development. So why are the Churches so opposed to it?

    Because such research entails the destruction of three-day-old human embryos. This is the Church’s great moral concern.
    So here are the facts:

    A three-day-old human embryo is a collection of 150 cells called a blastocyst. There are, for the sake of comparison, more than 100,000 cells in the brain of a fly. The human embryos that are destroyed in stem-cell research do not have brains, or even neurons. Consequently, there is no reason to believe that they can suffer in their destruction in any way at all. It is worth remembering, in this context, that when a person’s brain has died, we currently deem it acceptable to harvest his organs (provided he has donated them for this purpose) and bury him in the ground. If it is acceptable to treat a person who’s brain has died as something less than a human being, it should be acceptable to treat a blastocyst as such. If you are concerned about suffering in this universe, killing a fly should present you with greater moral difficulties than killing a human blastocyst.

    Perhaps you think the crucial difference between a fly and a human blastocyst is to be found in the latter’s potential to become a fully developed human being. But almost every cell in your body is a potential human being. Everytime you scratch your nose, you have committed a Holocaust of potential human beings. The argument from a cell’s potential gets you absolutely nowhere.

    We should throw immense resources into stem-cell research, and we should do so immediately. But because of what Christians like yourself believe about souls, we are not doing this. The truth here is obvious, that anyone who feels that the interests of a blastocyst just might supercede the interests of a child with a spinal cord injury has had his moral sense blinded by religious metaphysics.

    A consequentialist or utilitarian is likely to approach the abortion question in a very different way, by trying to weigh up suffering. Does the embryo suffer? (Presumably not if it is aborted before it has a nervous system; and even if it is old enough to have a nervous system it surely suffers less than, say, an adult cow in a slaughterhouse.) Does the pregnant woman, or her family, suffer if she does not have an abortion? Very possibly so; and, in any case, given that the embryo lacks a nervous system, shouldn’t the mother’s well-developed nervous system have the choice?

    This is not to deny that a consequentialist might have grounds to oppose abortion. ‘Slippery slope’ arguments can be framed by consequentialists (though I wouldn’t in this case). Maybe embryos don’t suffer, but a culture that tolerates the taking of human life risks going too far: where will it all end? In infanticide? The moment of birth provides a natural Rubicon for defining rules, and one could argue that it is hard to find another one earlier in embryonic development. Slippery slope arguments could therefore lead us to give the moment of birth more significance than utilitarianism, narrowly interpreted, would prefer.

    Strong opponents of abortion are almost all deeply religious. The sincere supporters of abortion, whether personally religious or not, are likely to follow a non-religious, consequentialist moral philosophy, perhaps invoking Jeremy Bentham’s question, ‘Can they suffer?’ Paul Hill and Michael Bray saw no moral difference between killing an embryo and killing a doctor except that the embryo was, to them, a blamelessly innocent ‘baby’. The consequentialist sees all the difference in the world. An early embryo has the sentience, as well as the semblance, of a tadpole. A doctor is a grown-up conscious being with hopes, loves, aspirations, fears, a massive store of humane knowledge, the capacity for deep emotion, very probably a devastated widow and orphaned children, perhaps elderly parents who dote on him.

    Paul Hill caused real, deep, lasting suffering, to beings with nervous systems capable of suffering. His doctor victim did no such thing. Early embryos that have no nervous system most certainly do not suffer. And if late-aborted embryos with nervous systems suffer – though all suffering is deplorable – it is not because they are human that they suffer. There is no general reason to suppose that human embryos at any age suffer more than cow or sheep embryos at the same developmental stage. And there is every reason to suppose that all embryos, whether human or not, suffer far less than adult cows or sheep in a slaughterhouse, especially a ritual slaughterhouse where, for religious reasons, they must be fully conscious when their throats are ceremonially cut.

    Suffering is hard to measure, and the details might be disputed. But that doesn’t affect my main point, which concerns the difference between secular consequentialist and religiously absolute moral philosophies. One school of thought cares about whether embryos can suffer. The other cares about whether they are human. Religious moralists can be heard debating questions like, ‘When does the developing embryo become a person – a human being?’ Secular moralists are more likely to ask, ‘Never mind whether it is human, (what does that even mean for a little cluster of cells?); at what age does any developing embryo, of any species, become capable of suffering?’

    Trust me, I used to be just as retarded as you Fletch. I used to go to ACT party campaign strategy meetings trying to convince everyone that we needed to adopt an anti-abortion policy. I used to post on Ian Wishart’s blog debating non-Christians about how life begins at conception and that abortion is murder etc. Now I know the facts much more fully and I find it pathetic that I used to say the exact same things as you. Now I realise that I did it out of ignorance, despite my genuine belief that what I was saying was righteous in God’s eyes. And then finally, how about you compare all that to what happens to animals?

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  17. Owen McShane (1,193 comments) says:

    Haven’t we missed the real point about the dog killers?
    I am no lover of animal sadists but the most serious crime they committed was invading the dog owner’s property with loaded guns and threatening him with those loaded guns and getting him to sign the “consent”.

    If they had invaded his property and threatened him with loaded shotguns and stolen his property they would (or should) be facing serious charges relating trespass and threatening to kill.
    They would be unlikely to do this in the US because the owner could have shot them both dead without risk of prosecution.
    As my wife says “What if it was me they threatened and then shot our three dogs? What about my suffering?”
    Why aren’t they sitting in jail after being summarily arrested and without bail?

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  18. Viking2 (14,372 comments) says:

    Absolutely correct. Maniacs with guns and no right whatsoever to do what they did.

    Wonder if Key is gong to change some law to lock them up, of wait up we already have it, but its not been used.

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  19. Steve (4,959 comments) says:

    I thought this post was about Animal Cruelty? It is about dogs being shot.
    Then the Religious Nutbars come in and hijack the thread to Human Abortion and off we go on a tangent.
    Fletch and Anna, stick your shit where the global warming sun don’t shine

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  20. Steve (4,959 comments) says:

    Back on track, dog chipping legislation was a waste of time because a man with 30+ dogs is not going to bother.
    The SPCA and the Council must have known, I mean you just can not hide that many dogs without the word getting out.
    Now what is this “ban cruelty to animals” Are the laws not already there?
    If the Govt starts this ban, ban, ban bullshit then that is all it is, bullshit. If the law is there, act on it. Seems like nobody whats to be responsible for notifying authorities. (not my problem, govt problem)

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  21. Ed Snack (2,795 comments) says:

    Owen, of course if that’s what they did, they would, but they didn’t. Usually you are better prepared than that ! They didn’t threaten him with loaded guns, once they had the “consent”, they went and retrieved their guns, loaded them, and shot a load of mongrel dogs that had already savaged one other dog and probably been a bloody nuisance for some time.

    Here we have around 40 dogs (he started with just two, a breeding pair, so totally inbred), unlicensed, unregistered, uncontrolled. His excuse for not registering, no money, but somehow he could afford to feed 40 dogs, which if he was doing it properly would cost a bit would it not ? The council was well aware of the dogs and their unregistered state, and they did, precisely nothing. SPCA, same.

    I can’t approve of the way it was done, but the dogs were a menace well beyond his property, and if no one in authority would take this seriously, no wonder local sensibilities became a little inflamed.

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  22. Viking2 (14,372 comments) says:

    They still had no right in law to do what they did.
    There are people in places to deal with these issues.

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  23. Lawrence Hakiwai (125 comments) says:

    By all means toughen the animal cruelty laws – but what about the kids and grown ups who are regularly maimed by dogs?

    Where is the desire to fast-track a ban on ALL dogs that can rip the face off a child?

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  24. Owen McShane (1,193 comments) says:

    IT still began with an act of trespass and they must have told him they were going to get their guns and probably implied that if he didn;t sign the consent then ?????
    Otherwise why did he sign a death warrant for the dogs?

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  25. annie (540 comments) says:

    At the moment, sentences for animal cruelty offences can be trivial – there was a recent appalling case reported in the Dom Post where a dairy farmer got a minor fine for having disposed of a still-live but presumably dying cow by impaling and lifting it using machinery (in view of a passing police car).

    The problem with sentencing for such crimes seems to be less a matter of providing higher maximum sentences than in ensuring the judiciary impose any sort of minimum sentence. Almost not worth the cop’s bother.

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  26. Brian Smaller (4,332 comments) says:

    I once shot forty goats in a gully up against a fence. The farmer paid me to get rid of this herd of feral goats. I drove them into a confined space and shot them all. Is that cruel? It was pest extermination. I killed ten possums last night as well. Trapped them in trees so they couldn’t escape and shot them one by one. Is that cruel? Would those instances come under this new animal cruelty law.

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  27. Gooner (929 comments) says:

    Next week the taxi driver cruelty bill will also be fast-tracked.

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  28. Manolo (22,043 comments) says:

    “I killed ten possums..”

    Brian, you’re a self-confessed killer. Good on you. 🙂

    Beware the SPCA could prosecute you and send you to jail. Or your farm could be picketed by Greenpeace and similar nutters / deranged protesters.

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  29. Brian Smaller (4,332 comments) says:

    Manolo – What’s more, I try to kill a few every night. Does that make me a serial killer?

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  30. Fletch (9,017 comments) says:

    Anna, with all due respect, to me abortion is still the act of ending a life no matter where along the timeline of that life it occurs. When that egg and sperm are brought together, new life is growing, no matter how small and how few cells it is made up of. If you kill a tadpole, you’re killing the frog it will become.

    Those “cells” you mention: if they are left alone to grow, and not interfered with in any way, then a new person will result, will they not? To me, the word “abortion” in this sense is a misnomer. When NASA aborts a rocket launch the countdown is stopped, the astronauts get out and it doesn’t leave. If we’re talking about sex, a real “abortion” would be when two people who were going to have sex decided not to do it; once they do have sex and the egg and sperm are joined, the question then becomes whether to kill or not to kill. The ‘rocket’ of that person’s life has been launched and the only way to stop it now is to shoot it down.

    If you believe in God and read the Bible then you must know that in the Psalms it says –

    When my bones were being formed, carefully put together in my mother’s womb, when I was growing there in secret, you knew that I was there -you saw me before I was born. The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book, before any of them ever began.

    In Isaiah –

    Before I was born, the LORD chose me and appointed me to be his servant.

    And Jeremiah –

    Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart

    As far as the harvesting of stem cells from embryos – it needn’t be done.
    Scientists in New Zealand have made great strides in the area of stem cells taken from a patient’s own nose and believe they will be able to make people with spinal injuries walk again.

    From the NZ Herald last year –

    Surgeons are preparing to insert stem cells into a dozen disabled New Zealanders in a bid to help them walk again.

    Operations will start later this year on the first 12 New Zealanders with chest/stomach-level spinal injuries, as a clinical trial.

    “I now believe it will be in my lifetime that people will go into hospital with a spinal injury and walk out a few months later just as though they’d experienced a broken leg,”‘ Spinal Cord Society chairwoman Noela Vallis said tonight.

    Mr Edmonds said at least a dozen New Zealand labs were researching non-embryonic adult stem cells for conditions such as brain injury and arthritis.

    The procedure to be applied in New Zealand had been carried out overseas in countries such as Portugal, Italy, Japan and China on well over 100 people with few negative side-effects and varying degrees of improvement for each patient.

    This had included recovering bowel and bladder-function, through to extra feeling and movement in limbs.

    The procedure involves extracting nerve tissue from a volunteer’s nose and inserting this into the injured area of the spinal cord.

    Ms Vallis said the procedure offered no controversy over the source of cells because it involved a transfer of the patient’s own cells.

    “It’s similar to a skin graft, so there is no need for complex anti-rejection drugs,” she said.

    “While doctors in other countries have actually made a start with these procedures, we have made use of the delays here, to continue studying the behaviour of human cells in our lab,” she said.

    “We are probably ahead of other countries in this knowledge.”

    So yes, while other countries have been mucking about with taking stem cells from embryos, New Zealand has leapt ahead in the field with using cells taken from the patient himself. I know some people will say, “well, the babies are being aborted now anyway, we may as well not let the embryos go to waste”, reminds me of the Nazis carrying out experiments on the Jews because, hey, they are going to be gassed anyway. It’s a specious argument.

    Now Anna, as far as your argument about contraception and condoms, an expert at the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies agrees with the Pope.

    ‘We have found no consistent associations between condom use and lower HIV-infection rates, which, 25 years into the pandemic, we should be seeing if this intervention was working.”

    So notes Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, in response to papal press comments en route to Africa this week.

    “The pope is correct,” Green told National Review Online Wednesday, “or put it a better way, the best evidence we have supports the pope’s comments. He stresses that “condoms have been proven to not be effective at the ‘level of population.’”

    “There is,” Green adds, “a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the U.S.-funded ‘Demographic Health Surveys,’ between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates. This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk-reduction ‘technology’ such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by ‘compensating’ or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology.”

    Green added: “I also noticed that the pope said ‘monogamy’ was the best single answer to African AIDS, rather than ‘abstinence.’ The best and latest empirical evidence indeed shows that reduction in multiple and concurrent sexual partners is the most important single behavior change associated with reduction in HIV-infection rates (the other major factor is male circumcision).”

    The Director of an AIDS care centre in Africa also agrees with the Pope –

    “The Pope,” Busingye emphasized, “is doing nothing else but defending and supporting precisely that which will be useful for helping these people: affirming the meaning of life and the dignity of the human being.”

    She continued: “Those who attack him have interests to defend, but the Pope has no such interests: he is concerned about us, and he is concerned about Africa.

    “He is not the one, who is bringing mines to blow up our children, our children who become soldiers, who become amputees, without ears, without mouths, unable to swallow saliva: and what should we give them, condoms?

    “When a few years ago there was genocide in Rwanda, everyone stood by and watched. Nearby there is a tiny town, which could have been protected, and no one did anything.

    “My relatives were there, and they all died in an inhumane way. No one cared, and now they are coming here with condoms.”

    Pointing out that malaria kills more people than AIDS, Busingye asked: “Why don’t they bring us aspirin and anti-malaria medicine?”

    She stated that there is a method that works and that caused a reduction in the spread of AIDS in Uganda from 18% of the population to 3% and “it is to do it in a way that makes the people feel cared for.” She concluded, “We see it here at Meeting Point: when the people come here, they don’t want to leave.”

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  31. Fletch (9,017 comments) says:

    ps, Anna, feel free to correct me on what I am about to say, but it sounds like you used to believe differently (as you have said), but then you got to university and some medical lecturer presented all this “evidence” to support his theory that abortion isn’t killing and you bought into it; to not do so would be ‘going against the flow’. I’ve had the odd occasion in class where I could have spoken up about something but didn’t, so I know it isn’t easy.

    Universities and such like are all very secular. It is hard to be the one to stand up and say, well, I’m sorry I’m a Christian and I just don’t believe that – for me, anyway.

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